We are all experiencing more virtual meetings than ever before. If we weren’t aware of too much screen time before COVID, we are aware of it now. How can we reduce the overwhelm, inability to focus, and feeling of disconnect? In a world of virtual verbosity, how can we strengthen human connection, with colleagues, friends and family, through a screen?
Digital overwhelm and distraction were with us before the pandemic. Screens had already become an extension of our brains. The body is often just a vehicle of transport for the head. This means we may be weakening the body-mind connection, losing out on our ability to meaningfully connect with others.
One way to strengthen human connection is by paying attention differently, holistically. We can begin to notice the fact that we are always in relationship with three bodies, a field and space.
Noticing these relationships helps us cultivate empathy and vulnerability, even in the virtual world. These skills strengthen human connection as well as our connection to this fragile Earth. When we can sense ourselves and others, we gain new information, new questions, new insights which are not accessible to us through habitual dialogue or data analysis. When we pay attention in this way, creativity and innovation are enhanced. We may come one step closer to solving a big challenge.
Every human being is always in relationship with three bodies. Some people may be completely unaware of these bodies or often notice one but not the others. Everyone is different. For most of us, this is a learning opportunity. to strengthen self awareness, awareness of others and awareness of planet Earth.
The first body is the Earth body. Without the Earth body, we would not exist. Our feet are always touching the ground somewhere on this planet. In Canada, we are working to increase the awareness of the Earth body through the practice of land acknowledgements. Land acknowledgements are a way to recognize the indigenous people who first inhabited a place such as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. Also, we can notice our connection to the Earth body through the physical felt sensation of our feet touching the ground. We can feel our body’s weight when we stand, sit or lie down. We can feel the gravitational pull holding us in place.
The second body is our own individual body. Again, everyone’s habitual noticing of their own body is very different. Some may regularly notice hunger, thirst or physical pain. Others may notice breath movement, the physical sensations of clothing, temperature or air. In today’s busy, action oriented and technology focused society, many are experiencing a body disconnect or the sensation of being “more in my head than in my body.”
The third body is the social body, the collection of people who are together in a shared space for a common purpose. Social bodies include people in a meeting, a family in a house, citizens inhabiting a city or country, shoppers in a mall, riders in a subway car, etc. The largest social body we are all part of is humanity.
The three bodies, Earth, individual and social, are all visible and have individual and collective shapes. We know the Earth body is round and we can see the piece of Earth or floor that we are standing on. In addition, we can see sitting or standing body shapes, the circular shape of people seated at a round table or the constantly moving shape of a crowd protesting.
The fourth relationship is with the social field. In contrast to the visible three bodies, we are also in relationship with the invisible social field, a web of relationships that exists between the people forming a social body in the present moment. The field is also the quality of the energy between people which can be sensed.
The fifth relationship is with the space we are occupying in a given moment. This space is the physical container we inhabit like a room, an office or a backyard. These days, we are often in a physical and a virtual space at the same time. Our relationship with the physical space is tangible. We can feel the furniture and quite easily sense our proximity to walls and a ceiling. Sensing the relationship to the virtual space is a bit nebulous. We are just getting to know what it feels like to inhabit the space of a Zoom room.
Embodiment and mindfulness practices are useful approaches for cultivating awareness of the five relationships. To learn more, join the experiential workshop, “Social Presencing in the Era of Social Distancing” at the online festival, Global Change Days, on June 26, 2020, 10am Eastern Standard Time. Register here. Session Code: WN-S1.